3 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
April 3, 2002
Upon finishing "Rules of Conflict", I had to ask myself, "What the heck did I just read?" This book had no real plot or purpose, it was just a 370 page ramble that finally drifted to an arbitrary conclusion, where Jani Kilian gets retired from the Service and sent on her merry way.
The flaws from "Code of Conduct" continue in the sequel. There are far too many instances of characters talking to themselves or thinking internal soliloquies to drag the murky plot ahead. There is little action of any kind, certainly nothing to keep readers wanting to read more.
Smith's novels are a great illusion: you read the book and then at the end wonder if you really read anything at all. The problem is that these books don't have the science topics to be considered "hard" sci-fi, nor the action/adeventure to be considered lighter "space opera" sci-fi, nor the mystery to be a sci-fi mystery. To wax philosophically, it is something, and yet it is nothing.
Having read the first two, and starting on the third (simply because I could find nothing better), I recommend shunting these books to the end of your reading list, there's simply nothing of substance to be had.